The Socio-Economic Rights & Accountability Project (SERAP) has launched a citizen against local government corruption campaign.
The campaign was designed to encourage community participation in the fight against corruption and promote citizens’ access to basic infrastructure.
At a press briefing in Lagos today, the organization’s Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, said that the project is being undertaken in collaboration with the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).
According to Mr. Mumuni, the anti-local government corruption campaign aims “to empower and encourage citizens at the local government level and to initiate actions to tackle corruption which directly obstruct delivery of public services such as health, education and other utilities to local residents.”
He stated that the project seeks to address the exclusion of the poor and other marginalized groups from participation in governance. Mr. Mumuni held that .the citizen against local government corruption campaign will educate and raise awareness on the need for communities to jointly fight corruption at the local government level.
“Although local-level corruption is assessed to be much more widespread than corruption at the federal and state levels, most of the known cases of corruption are at the federal and state levels, and allegations of corruption among local government officials frequently go unreported; nor actions taken to redress the problem,” Mr. Mumuni said.
The Executive Director added that the organization conducted an investigation and found that corruption at the local government level was endemic. He said this was particularly dangerous because the local government had the greatest role to play in the delivery of essential services to citizens. “Our investigations show that corruption at the local government level goes beyond outright theft of local resources, and often includes – bribing policemen, doctors, tax officers, and council administrators for construction of permits or local market stall.”
Mr. Mumuni also held that it was most unfortunate that local residents do not have access to information regarding spending by their local governments and are not empowered to demand accountability from their local government administrations.
“The implementation of the project would help motivate and encourage local residents to use existing anti-corruption laws, standards and institutions,” Mr. Mumuni said
The SERAP project will at Inception, target local residents and stake holders in 10 local government areas of Lagos State. However, Mr. Mumuni added that the project would be extended to more local government areas across the country in the future.